December 19, 2014

10:40 PM | Education Department Unveils College Rating Plan
The Education Department Friday released its much-anticipated plan to rate colleges. Starting next school year, the Department will rate more than 5,000 colleges and universities as high-, low- or middle-performing schools. The Education Department wants to measure and then rank schools based on how much it actually costs to attend the school, how many students graduate and find jobs in their field, and whether colleges are admitting enough low and middle-income students. The measures will […]
8:00 PM | Jeb Bush's Education Reform Ideas Are Just a Big Corporate Giveaway
With Jeb Bush’s announcement early this week that he too was interested in moving into the ancestral estate on Pennsylvania, much of America appeared to just sort of shrug. The latest Bush isn’t really that exciting, but at least he has the advantage of not being W. And he didn’t do that bad with Florida, right? One of the appeals of the erstwhile governor of that state is that he has a reputation as an education reformer. He made fixing the state’s public schools a top […]
7:42 PM | Obama Ratings Would Divide Colleges into High and Low Performing
The Obama administration is considering putting four-year undergraduate and graduate institutions and two-year institutions into such categories as high performing, low performing, and those in the middle based on measures including completion rates and job placement. As unsurprising as it was long awaited, the broad outline of the Obama ratings plan is now available for public comment through February, and officials say that it will be in place next fall. “It is a daunting task to […]
2:55 PM | Comments on Federal College Rating Metrics
The U.S. Department of Education (ED) released a document containing draft metrics for the Postsecondary Institution Ratings System (PIRS) today (link via Inside Higher Ed), with a request for comments from stakeholders and the general public by February. Although the release of the metrics was delayed several months (and we were initially expecting ratings this fall instead of just some potential metrics), the potential metrics and the explanations provided by ED provide insights about what […]
12:00 PM | Nobody Wants to Go to Law School Anymore
We are basically witnessing the end of demand for law school. When the real estate market collapsed in 2007 the whole economy came down with it. Seven years later large portions of the country have recovered. Times are not exactly flush, and far too many Americans still don’t have jobs, but real estate has finally recovered and the country on the whole is in a relatively safe financial position. But not everything has come back. One of those things still suffering is the American law […]

December 18, 2014

9:28 PM | The 2014 "Not Top Ten" List in Higher Education
Earlier this week, I unveiled my list of the top ten higher education policy issues of 2014, with the fascinating saga of Corinthian Colleges getting top billing this year. Now it’s time to turn to the “not top ten list,” highlighting some of the less-than-wonderful happenings of the year. Last year’s “winner,” Georgetown Law’s plan to stick taxpayers with the entire cost of legal education, gets a stern finger wagging again this year along with a […]
7:00 PM | Johns Hopkins Screws up the Admissions Process, Again
It happened again. In continuance of a depressing annual tradition, Johns Hopkins sent out acceptance letters to 294 students, by mistake. According to an article in the Washington Post: Sam Stephenson was steeling himself for another round of college applications after his first choice, Johns Hopkins University, turned him down. Then the 17-year-old from Culpeper County in Virginia received an e-mail from Hopkins on Sunday afternoon that suggested he might still have reason to […]

December 17, 2014

3:19 PM | Why Did Mississippi Lose out on Preschool Funding — Again?
Mississippi’s flawed application and underdeveloped plans to provide preschool for all children is partly to blame for why the state’s youngest learners were bypassed once again for federal funds that could have provided a boost to early education, a review found. Last week, Mississippi was passed over for a preschool grant that would have tripled the number of children enrolled in early education classes in four years, increased the number of highly qualified preschool teachers and […]

December 16, 2014

2:24 PM | Why University of New Orleans Faculty Would Be Better off Taking Their Concerns to a New Governor
NEW ORLEANS - Organizing to solve deeper political problems requires much more effort than the finger pointing currently under way at the University of New Orleans. The schools’ Faculty Council issued a vote of no confidence for Peter Fos, its president, a week before the University of Louisiana System Board of Supervisors approved Fos’s plan to eliminate seven academic programs from the institution. Low enrollments and wanting completion rates were the cited reasons why […]

December 15, 2014

1:54 PM | California Study Finds Harm for Some in Repeating Algebra, Questions Whether it Benefits Anyone
One of the most often repeated courses in U.S. high schools is algebra. Teachers and school leaders understandably worry whether a student who can’t solve basic equations should move on in math, to geometry or advanced algebra. So the student takes algebra again. Sometimes, even students with B’s in algebra are asked to repeat it because their teachers are concerned that they haven’t mastered the material. Unfortunately, a growing body of research is showing that when you […]
5:31 AM | The 2014 Top Ten Higher Education List
As we near the end of 2014, it’s time to look back and reflect upon the events of the past year. I’ve ranked the top ten newsworthy events in the higher education policy world (at least in my view) in 2014—some of these items also made my 2013 list. As always, feel free to take issue with my list and suggest your own items that I missed! 10. “Big data” systems keep getting bigger, but run into privacy concerns. Encouraged by funding from the federal government and […]

December 11, 2014

8:00 PM | The Problems with Addressing Campus Sexual Assault
Readers have no doubt heard by now all about the controversy surrounding sexual assault on college campuses, particularly at the University of Virginia, about which Rolling Stone published this piece, and then essentially retracted it. Emily Yoffe has an important piece up at Slate about how we’re trying to address sexual assault: Sexual assault at colleges and universities is indeed a serious problem. The attention it’s receiving today—on campus, at the White House, in the […]
3:40 PM | Can a School District's Technology Program Lift a Rural Alabama Town Out of Poverty?
PIEDMONT, Alabama — For years, Chasity Tucker got frustrated when she tried to use her home computer for schoolwork. The 17-year-old senior at Piedmont High School in this rural northeastern Alabama town said her computer was slow and frequently got viruses. Then, in eighth grade, Tucker received a free laptop through the Piedmont School District as part of a new program. Tucker was immediately hooked. She could use her computer to quickly research topics and complete assignments. When […]
2:54 PM | Like Retailers Tracking Trends, Colleges Use Data to Predict Grades, Graduations
DALLAS — Stephanie Dupaul jokingly consults her collection of Magic 8 Balls — those novelty toys that tell your fortune through a little window at the base — when her students ask her things like, “Will I get an A in that class?” Now she can answer that question with a great deal more accuracy. Associate provost for enrollment management at Southern Methodist University, Dupaul is one of a growing number of university administrators quietly consulting years of data […]

December 10, 2014

8:00 PM | Trying to Fix California's Education Funding
Californians, after decades of strange tax polices and increasing expenses, had realized that the state’s funding formula for public schools was too difficult and too low. Many states across the country have made similar determinations. Since public schools are funded by local property taxes, and the value of property is higher where rich people live than where the poor live, the essential discrepancy shows up everywhere. But California had an interesting idea about how to address this. […]
7:39 PM | Beat the Press: The Perils of Reporting Campus Rape
Rolling Stone acknowledged Friday serious discrepancies in a story published last month about a brutal gang rape of a woman named Jackie at the University of Virginia. Editors had said they decided to honor Jackie's request not to contact the man she claimed coordinated her attack for fear of retaliation. In a letter to their readers on Friday, they admitted that was a mistake. "In the face of new information, there now appear to be discrepancies in Jackie’s account, and we have […]
2:43 PM | Review of "American Higher Education in Crisis? What Everyone Needs to Know"
I recently had the pleasure of reading American Higher Education in Crisis? What Everyone Needs to Know (Oxford University Press) by Goldie Blumenstyk, senior writer at The Chronicle of Higher Education. Goldie has a well-deserved reputation as perhaps the best higher education journalist out there, and this book reflects her ability to summarize complex topics in higher education for a broad audience. Veteran researchers in higher ed finance and policy probably won’t come across too many […]

December 09, 2014

6:56 PM | Our Richest College Presidents
Annually the Chronicle of Higher Education releases its list of college presidents who earn a lot of money. The top gold-plated academic administrators this year are: 1. Shirley Ann Jackson of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute: $7.1 million 2. John L. Lahey of Quinnipiac University: $3.8 million 3. Lee C. Bollinger of Columbia University: $3.4 million 4. Amy Gutmann of the University of Pennsylvania: $2.4 million 5. Charles R. Middleton of Roosevelt University: $1.7 million 6. Susan […]
3:32 PM | Schools Should Excuse Absences Due to Participation in Civil Disobedience
NEW ORLEANS - It’s finals week at my daughter’s university, but in spite of her school’s calendar, I expect her to join the acts of civil disobedience blooming across the country. All students, especially those in high school and college, currently face the appearing choice of testing the curriculum of injustice (AKA institutional oppression) or being tested by it. Many will advise that the best thing black and brown youth can do to exact justice is to literally stay the […]

December 08, 2014

2:29 PM | Best Research Yet on the Effects of Full-Day Kindergarten
A new study from Chloe R. Gibbs at the University of Virginia holds some preliminary good news for proponents of full-day kindergarten.* Though many of the most important implications of the study won’t be clear until the students studied are much older, the first-of-its-kind randomized trial of full-day kindergarten shows sizable learning advantages for full-day students at the end of the kindergarten year. Most notably, the advantage for Hispanic full-day students over other Hispanic […]
2:22 PM | Advocates Say Feds Can Force States to Increase Spending on Higher Ed
NEW ORLEANS—If federal policymakers are serious about giving all students access to affordable higher education, they should leverage some of the billions of dollars in existing federal funding to make states stop cutting their budgets for public universities and colleges. And public universities themselves have to do a better job persuading the public that supporting higher education is essential to economic development. That was the dual message to top administrators from, and lobbyists […]
2:17 PM | To Close the Achievement Gap, Extra Hours in School Have to be Better Hours
As New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio ushers in a huge expansion of after-school programs for middle schoolers, educators and advocates are debating whether the new programs are academic enough. How students and teachers should spend their time when kids are behind is among the most pressing and vexing questions in education today, and it’s one we have spent the past year exploring. Related: NYC’s ramped up after-school programs offer safety, supper and sports Our Time to Learn […]

December 05, 2014

5:00 PM | Does Rating Education Schools Have a Future?
Colleges of education have been around this country for more than a century and have been responsible for producing the majority of public school educators. But in recent decades pundits have started to complain that their value to the country is a little, well, questionable. Back in 2010 Education Secretary Arnie Duncan grumbled that “By almost any standard, many if not most of the nation’s 1,450 schools, colleges and departments of education are doing a mediocre job of preparing […]

December 04, 2014

5:00 PM | Good Students Don't Really Have Any Trouble Getting in at Elite Colleges
College admissions are a source of great anxiety for high school students and their parents. Every spring features high school students with bundled nerves waiting anxiously for fat envelopes from the colleges of their choices, or at least their second or third choices. (It’s this anxiety that fuels a lot of the American college rating game.) They and their parents also hope anxiously that at least a few of these schools will be reasonably affordable. In the back of everyone’s […]
1:35 PM | Advocates Say Feds Can Force States to Increase Spending on Higher Ed
NEW ORLEANS—If federal policymakers are serious about giving all students access to affordable higher education, they should leverage some of the billions of dollars in existing federal funding to make states stop cutting their budgets for public universities and colleges. At the current rate of disinvestment, “We won’t have state universities in 50 years,” said F. King Alexander, president and chancellor of Louisiana State University. And public universities themselves […]

December 03, 2014

3:03 PM | Bullshit Teacher Ratings
Efforts to improve American primary and secondary education concentrate a great deal on teacher quality, specifically on getting rid of teachers who aren’t very good. A lot of his has to do with evaluating teachers with the magic of “value added” modeling, which means basically looking at students’ end of year test scores and comparing them to their scores in previous years, as well as to other students in the same grade. This is supposed to show what the teacher has […]

December 02, 2014

2:10 PM | Tales of a Fourth-Grade Cuffing: Why I love Public Libraries
Who would have thought fourth grade could be so cruel. Ms. Gibbs’s class included many neighboring children who later would become lifelong friends. However, by the sounds of the “rip” sessions between subjects, during gym class or lunch you would have thought we were mortal enemies. Every day, I lived in fear that they would notice the t-shirt I wore three days prior, no-name shoes, or my brother’s blue jeans. But I knew my day would come. In Johnston School in the […]

December 01, 2014

5:20 PM | Wins for Athletes Could Cost Fellow Students Steeper Fees
Wins by college athletes in courtrooms and boardrooms could end up as losses for their nonathlete classmates. High-profile legal cases and NCAA policy changes are likely to boost the cost of fielding big-time athletics programs, and students—even those who never attend a single college basketball or football game—may have to foot the bill. Some schools have already hinted they would pay athletes thousands of dollars more per year after NCAA officials said they might allow […]
5:17 PM | Three Lessons from Data on Children's Reading Habits
More than a decade ago a company called Renaissance Learning developed a computerized way for teachers to track students’ reading outside of the classroom. Instead of pasting stars on a chart each time a student says he has read a book, the teacher sits a student in front of a computer screen to answer a quiz on the book to prove he’s read it. The computer keeps track of how many and which books a student has read, along with the level of reading difficulty and whether a […]
2:53 AM | Stanford Might Not Like Coal, But it Sure Likes Oil
Back in May, in response to widespread protests by environmentally active students, Stanford University announced that it would stop investing in companies that did business in coal. Citing environmental concerns, the university explained its decision like this: Acting on a recommendation of Stanford’s Advisory Panel on Investment Responsibility and Licensing, the Board of Trustees announced that Stanford will not make direct investments in coal mining companies. The move reflects the […]
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